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Denyer, Frank

The Fish That Became The Sun (Songs Of The Dispossessed)

Denyer, Frank: The Fish That Became The Sun (Songs Of The Dispossessed) (Another Timbre)

A uniquely epic work in 14 parts by composer Frank Denyer, with a large ensemble of 40 musicians, many playing specially built instruments made from discarded materials, with other instrumentation including sitar, mandolin and hammered dulcimer, 4 male vocalists, 4 female vocalists, 4 players of adapted organ pipes, crumhorns, bowed wine glasses, 3 double basses, a contrabassoon, &c. &c.

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product information:

Label: Another Timbre
Catalog ID: at149
Squidco Product Code: 28335

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: UK
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at The Menuhin Hall, Stoke d'Abernon, Cobham, Surrey, UK, and 6 and 17 September 6th and 17th, 2018, at The Cabin Studio, Walthamstow, London, on April 28th and 29th, 2018, by Robert Bosch.


New London Chamber Choir-choir

Frank Denyer-composer

Jon Hargreaves-conch, whistle

Jon Hargreaves-conductor

Matthew Hamilton-conductor

Andrew Watson-contrabassoon

Shane Brennan-cornet

Ben Daniel-Greep-double bass

Ben Havinden-double bass

Sam Rice-double bass

Elsa Bradley-dulcimer


Octandre Ensemble-ensemble

Perc'm Percussion Ensemble-ensemble

Royal College Of Music-ensemble

Yshani Perinpanayagam-harmonium

Sam Cave-mandolin

Adam Cracknell-percussion

George Barton-percussion

Hyun-Gi Lee-percussion

Jess Wood-percussion

Nick Cowling-percussion

Sam Howes-percussion

Vilhelms Patriks Skabardis-percussion

Christian Mason-performer

Emily Bloom-pipe, horns, Ocarina

Ilze Ikse-pipe, horns, Ocarina

Kathryn Corrigan-pipe, horns, Ocarina

Roselyn Maynard-pipe,horns, Ocarina

Jonathan Meyer-sitar

Benjamin Marquise Gilmore-violin

Aubrey Botsford-vocals

Celia Springate-vocals

Chau-Yee Lo-vocals

Christopher Clark-vocals

Margaret O'Shea-vocals

Peter Johnson-vocals

Pippa Hyde-vocals

Roger Parks-vocals

Albert Snow-vocals

Pearl Snow-vocals

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Artist Biographies:

"Frank Denyer is an English composer whose brilliantly coloured and imaginatively rich compositions fall between several and into none of the accepted categories of contemporary music.

Born in London in 1943, he was a chorister at Canterbury Cathedral by the age of nine, the director of the experimental music ensemble Mouth of Hermes in London at the age of twenty-five, and a Doctoral student in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University, Connecticut at the age of thirty. He has lived and worked in east Africa and India.

Denyer's music is distinguished by a keen sensitivity to sound. Each of his works is written for a unique combination of instruments, more often than not a combination that no composer has dreamed of before. Each work finds its own individual form, laying down the path for its journey as it proceeds. In some cases even such basic musical materials as the scales and the tuning system are invented from scratch.This music is handmade in every detail; it is engaged in a complex process of affirmation and negation, accepting no easy solutions.

For Denyer, a fine pianist who has composed not one note for his own instrument since his student days, the whole question of musical instruments is a central one. His compositions present an astonishingly varied array of sound sources - new instruments of his own invention, adapted instruments, instruments of non Western traditions, rare or virtually extinct instruments, and conventional Western instruments. This whole concern with what his friend Morton Feldman called 'the instrumental factor' is not a postmodern mixing-and-matching of instruments from different 'ethnic' traditions: rather, his work suggests that all instruments bear the imprint of the tradition of which they are a part, whether that tradition be nascent, mature or decaying, and that at the beginning of the twenty-first century we cannot afford to be complacent about which musical traditions we consider to be 'ours.' Neither is his music that of a composer making do with ready-mades or whatever lies to hand (like Cage's percussion ensemble works of the 1930s and early 1940s). Nor, at the other extreme, does one have the sense of the composer gradually assembling an instrumentarium of his own, creating the illusion of an alternative musical universe (like Harry Partch): for one thing, Denyer's assembly of new instruments hardly ever plays together; for another, they rarely recur from one work to the next - each new composition wipes the slate clean and starts afresh. The instruments are like flowers that suddenly spring up between the cracks in a wall; they seem to be there because the opportunity has arisen for them to exist, to fill the gaps between isolated islands of instrumental sound.

Denyer's concern with musical instruments can also be seen as a metaphor for the larger question of what can be salvaged, artistically, from the chaos of civilization as we begin our new century. Compositions like A Monkey's Paw (1987-88) and Finding Refuge in the Remains (1992) confront this central issue - the sense of new life emerging from a morass of dead or decaying matter - an urgent issue for him both compositionally and culturally."

-Frank Denyer Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Elsa Bradley is a London-based freelance percussionist and timpanist, born and raised in Yorkshire. She graduated from King's College, London and the Royal College of Music with first-class degrees and has gone on to play in a variety of orchestral and chamber ensembles across the UK, Europe and Canada.

As an orchestral musician, Elsa has freelanced in many of the UK's main orchestras including regular work with the BBC Symphony and Concert Orchestras, Britten Sinfonia, Opera North, City of London Sinfonia and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

Both period and contemporary music feature heavily in Elsa's life and she plays in regular projects with various period ensembles, the award-winning Multi-Story Orchestra and new-music collective Plus Minus Ensemble.

Elsa also plays the hammered dulcimer and cimbalom professionally, with the latter (and larger!) instrument notably having taken her to the BBC Proms with the London Sinfonietta and across to Montréal, Canada to play with Le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne. Folk music, both traditional and modern, is a genre Elsa really enjoys exploring on the hammered dulcimer and has played in numerous ensembles at venues including the Royal Academy of Music and Ronnie Scotts.

In her free time Elsa likes to be outdoors, mostly cycling and exploring new places."

-Abstrukt (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"George Barton is a solo, chamber and orchestral percussionist and timpanist based in London.

He is a member of the Colin Currie Group and has also worked with the London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Nash Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia, Aurora Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Endymion, Music Theatre Wales, BBC Singers, Mahogany Opera Group, Notes Inégales, Riot Ensemble, London Contemporary Orchestra, the Royal Opera House, and the Multi-Story Orchestra, among many other ensembles and orchestras.

As a solo artist George has performed at the Southbank Centre's "The Rest is Noise" festival, the "Occupy the Pianos" festival at St John's Smith Square, and at a number of Nonclassical events across London, among other venues across the UK. His collaboration with Turner Prize -winning artist Jeremy Deller at the Barbican's Station to Station festival was featured on BBC2's Artsnight, and his playing has been recorded and broadcast many times for BBC Radio 3 and NMC. He was featured soloist at Filthy Lucre's The Sounding Body concerts and clubnight - footage available on the media page.

As an ensemble and orchestral player he has performed at all the major London concert halls, including at the BBC Proms every year since 2014, as well as such venues as the Cologne Philharmonie, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Tokyo Opera City, and many others.

He has performed chamber music at various venues around the UK and abroad, including the Concertgebouw Grote Zaal, Amsterdam, Cité de la Musique, Paris, Delft Chamber Music Festival, Royal Festival Hall, and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

With duo partner Siwan Rhys he has performed at St John's Smith Square, Barbican Hall, the City of London Festival, XOYO, Scala and The Forge, among other venues. Committed to commissioning new music, the duo became New Dots artists in 2014; in 2017 they took part in the Stockhausen biennial at Kürten, performing Kontakte and solo works. The duo was selected to become one of three St John's Smith Square Young Artists for the 2017-18 season. Their programme for the season included the premiere of a 40-minute work from Oliver Leit and the UK premiere of Eric Wubbels' doxa, alongside music by Stockhausen, Kagel, Cage, Fran le Lohé and John Luther Adams, as well as unpublished music by Morton Feldman."

-George Barton Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
track listing:

1. Untitled 2:20

2. Untitled 4:32

3. Untitled 3:14

4. Untitled 1:34

5. Untitled 5:53

6. Untitled 4:18

7. Untitled 1:01

8. Untitled 0:56

9. Untitled 2:58

10. Untitled 5:36

11. Untitled 3:10

12. Untitled 5:10

13. Untitled 5:02

14. Untitled 10:58
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"In contrast to the intimate mood of his chamber pieces, 'The Fish that became the Sun' operates on an epic scale. 56 minutes long, written for a large ensemble of 40 musicians, many of whom are playing specially built instruments made from discarded materials, 'The Fish..' is a spectacular monster of a work. Still unmistakably Denyer, but massive in its reach, its variety and its authenticity. Utterly unique. "In the face of destruction, Frank Denyer makes instruments out of its result and symbol - detritus, fragments - and has them speak to us in a musical ritual.... Certainty, self-assertion and fervour are steering us into catastrophe, so here is an aesthetic of hesitance, of careful appreciation, of sharing out... There's a mournful aspect to it, but it also recalls the eternal potential for new form and therefore evolution.... Yes, it says, a life among the remains is possible."-Michael Turnbull

Related Categories of Interest:

Compositional Forms
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
London & UK Improv & Related Scenes
Large Ensembles
New in Compositional Music
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